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Conservation Regulations - Farmed Salmon

There have been a number of questions raised by some anglers as to how they should handle any farmed caught salmon following The Conservation of Salmon (Scotland) Regulations 2016 ('the 2016 Regulations') coming into force. Following discussions with the ASFB we have jointly-agreed the following guidance on how to handle commercial salmon in view of the 2016 Regulations. 

The 2016 Regulations are clear that they do not apply to any salmon produced by commercial fish farming. As such, existing local good practice in such circumstances where it is possible to determine whether you have or have not caught a farmed fish, remain unchanged and should continue to be followed. Most importantly in relation to a category 3 conservation status, any approach should look to avoid any dubiety around enforcement. It is important that nobody places themselves in a position whereby it might be considered that they are in breach of the Regulation.

Identification of Farmed Fish

Salmon of farmed origin may exhibit some or all of the following physical characteristics: 

  • Deformed or shortened fins (especially the dorsal, pectoral and tail fins)
  • Deformed or shortened gill covers (may be only on one side)
  • Deformed or shortened snout
  • Heavy pigmentation (spots more numerous than are usual on wild salmon)

For the purposes of salmon catch returns, a salmon is classified as being of farmed origin if it exhibits two or more of the above features. There is no legal requirement for anglers to notify Scottish Government of an escape of farmed fish, but if anglers catch suspected farmed fish they should alert Marine Scotland’s duty inspector mailbox.